Todd Boehly’s time in charge of Chelsea has been a whirlwind experience thus far, with the American owner bringing in a raft of new players at great expense. Yet Boehly is now looking to branch out his soccer portfolio with a takeover bid for RC Strasbourg.
Strasbourg currently play in Ligue 1, although they are currently in a relegation battle after winning just two of their last 15 league games.
L’Equipe reported on Monday morning that Boehly’s interest in the French club is legitimate and advanced.
It’s unclear whether he would run the French club as a totally different entity to Chelsea, or whether it would become a spoke on the wheel of his portfolio in much the same way the City Football Group runs multiple clubs across the globe.
Is Boehly being unfairly critiqued in England?
It can’t be doubted that Boehly is a serious operator in business. He wouldn’t have built up the level of wealth and success that he has if he wasn’t smart.
However, in England he has been ridiculed at every turn since completing his Chelsea takeover.
Initially his idea of introducing an All-Star game was considered silly by the purists in Britain, whilst a rather cruel jibe from Rio Ferdinand intimated that Boehly didn’t actually know how many players were allowed on the pitch at one time.
Americans face a really difficult task in convincing British fans of their competence, through no fault of their own. Be it due to the wariness of Glazer-style ownership models, or coaches who don’t quite work out, British football has always been averse to change. Just ask Christian Gross.
It is worth asking whether Todd Boehly has been unfairly treated in the British media to this point. The suggestion of him purchasing RC Strasbourg has been met with initial derision, merely because of Chelsea’s own on-pitch struggles at this juncture.
The reality is that Boehly has been smart. His use of longer-term contracts has worked wonders for Chelsea’s balance-sheet with regards to Financial Fair Play, although it is a major gamble with regards to these players needing to be successes.
If Strasbourg fans are worried about this possible takeover, it shouldn’t be related to Boehly’s acumen.
Boehly’s consortium has spoken with the French club
L’Equipe gave more detail on the stage that talks are at with regards to Boehly completing a buyout of the Ligue 1 team.
Strasbourg’s president, Marc Keller, has spoken with Boehly and his consortium about investment into the French club, although he wants to acquire 100% of the club.
The stable finances of Strasbourg are particularly attractive to the Chelsea owner, especially at a time when French football is walking towards a financial catastrophe after the collapse of the Mediapro television deal.
An interesting subplot to this story is the fact that Boehly believes Strasbourg would be relatively easy to build up, especially if propped up by player loans, which presumably would come from Chelsea.
The London club have long been criticized for stockpiling talented players and loaning them out. However, FIFA’s rule changes will come into force from July 2023.
These changes limit the number of outbound loans a club can make in a season to seven and then this will move to six in 2024.
Boehly’s rapid recruitment drive at Stamford Bridge has already left the squad bloated, even forcing some to be left off the club’s Champions League squad list.
There is a sense that perhaps we could see a strategic partnership with Strasbourg. This would allow Chelsea to loan players, and perhaps even ‘sell’ them to the French club. Doing this would help circumvent the aforementioned changes to loan rules.
Once again, it’s clear Boehly is thinking smartly about how to best run Chelsea, even if the results on the pitch aren’t yet showing.
Photo: IMAGO / Schüler
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